DAYTONA BEACH — A former exotic dancer at Grandview Live is suing the Daytona Beach strip club saying that it classified her as an independent contractor when in actuality she was treated as an employee.
Brittany Hall claims that misclassification meant she earned less than the minimum wage and lost out on overtime, according to her lawsuit.
Like the other exotic dancers, Hall’s only pay were the tips from customers during the just over two years she worked at Grandview Live, according to the lawsuit. Besides earning less than the minimum wage, she was not paid overtime, the suit states.
“It’s pretty standard in the industry, unfortunately,” said Hall’s attorney, Anthony Hall, who is not related and declined to make his client available for an interview. “And what it does is it acts to deprive the entertainers of their money.”
Brittany Hall says Grandview Live owes her money because she worked at less than the minimum wage. She is also asking for the overtime she was never paid and any tips taken from her by the club.
Robert Russell, owner of Grandview Live, could not be reached for comment. His attorney at Cobb Cole also could not be reached.
While exotic dancers started swaying on stages long before smartphones and apps, the issue of whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor is a hot one in today’s gig economy. Many people are trying to get by or making extra money toiling for companies like Uber and Lyft without the benefits of being actual employees.
While sometimes employers make an honest mistake and misclassify an employee, other times it’s done to cut costs, said Andrew Elmore, an associate professor of law at the University of Miami School of Law.
Employers see a major incentive to shift workers off their payrolls, and there are a lot of lawsuits in Florida and across the country over this issue, he said. Based on news accounts, many of the lawsuits against employers over this issue are successful, he said.
“The important point is that there is a general trend in the United States of employers calling people independent contractors in order to save money, not just in wages but also in payroll taxes and contributions to unemployment insurance as well as workers compensation premiums,” Elmore said.
In some industries such as construction where labor costs are very high there is a greater incentive to misclassify employees as independent contractors, he said.
“This extends well beyond the gig economy and well beyond exotic dancers,” Elmore said.
“My basic feeling is that it’s a step in the right direction for states to come up with a set of predictable rules that will ensure that people who are treated as employees also receive the benefits of employment,” Elmore said.
Beyond underpaying them, Grandview Live also charged the dancers “a house fee” depending on when they arrived for work, the lawsuit states.
Attorney Hall said he did not know what the house fee was.
Brittany Hall and the other dancers were also required to share their tips with employees who did not typically receive tips.
While Grandview Live classified the dancers as independent contractors, the strip club hired, fired and supervised them and set their schedule and the prices they would charge customers for dances, the suit states. Grandview Live also controlled the dancers’ appearance and their music. The club provided the stage. And the club would discipline dancers who broke rules.
While Brittany Hall frequently worked more than 40 hours per week she was not paid at the legally required time-and-a-half rate for those overtime hours, the lawsuit states.
“She was being treated as an independent contractor which deprives her of minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” Anthony Hall said. “What she really is is an employee.”